Questions Answered by Richard Sternberg

Q: Upon death of disabled person who outranks who the guardian or the executor/per. Rep?

1 Answer | Asked in Probate for Maryland on
Answered on Mar 18, 2019
Richard Sternberg's answer
The guardianship or any power of attorney ceases to exist when the ward or principal dies. There is no outranking, because the sole remaining duty of the guardian is to account to the PR or the court.

Q: I signed a lease March 1 and paid rent and security deposit and was given keys and go ahead to move into the apt.

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Virginia on
Answered on Mar 17, 2019
Richard Sternberg's answer
A lease can be enforced against anyone who has signed it. Sometimes, a separate document "signed" by the party against whom enforcement is sought can act as a signature on the unsigned lease, such as an email conveying the lease saying something like, "This is the lease I'm offering you." That could become a factual issue, which, if not handled correctly, could mean expensive litigation. If you already have a lease, the revised lease needs to be supported by consideration. All in all, if there...

Q: My intended owns property in Virginia with her son.

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Virginia on
Answered on Mar 16, 2019
Richard Sternberg's answer
The petition is called a Sale in Lieu of Partition. In Virginia, there is a Code provision that reimburses the legal fees out of the proceeds if the sale. Don’t let the son’s default destroy his mother’s credit. If they are tenants in common, the petition is routine, but a bit much for a DIY project, and, once he talks to a lawyer, the son should consent rather than run up legal fees on a hopeless defense. If Mom feels bad for the kid, give him enough more than his share for a down...

Q: In Maryland, it appears that witnesses to a will must appear to verify a will in probate. However, must they be found?

2 Answers | Asked in Probate for Maryland on
Answered on Mar 15, 2019
Richard Sternberg's answer
Proper attestation creates a presumption of authenticity, so it will usually be adequate in an uncontested probate. Beyond that, retaining a lawyer, whose fees are subject to review by the court and who is paid from the assets of the estate, is a good idea.

Q: This lawyer also doesn’t do any of the work like second lawyer said he works for a law firm that has lots of offices

1 Answer | Asked in Probate for Virginia on
Answered on Mar 14, 2019
Richard Sternberg's answer
If you have doubts about the handling of the estate, you need to consult with an experienced lawyer. An Internet website cannot review the bills, investigate the services, and evaluate the costs and benefits of challenging the fees or the distribution of assets. If you are asking whether you can get such a review, of course, you can as long as you have an interest in the estate. If the review reveals irregularities, you might be able to raise the issues pro se to the commissioner of accounts to...

Q: In Maryland if there is no will and the estate representative doesn’t sell the home of the deceased in the allotted time

1 Answer | Asked in Probate for Maryland on
Answered on Mar 13, 2019
Richard Sternberg's answer
What!? Get a lawyer. Find out why the state is selling the property. Intestacy has nothing to do with it. If there is an open probate and an appointed personal representative (PR), we need to ask why they have decided to forfeit the property. Is it "underwater" with the mortgage debt and taxes? Is the PR doing something dishonest? If it isn't an unredeemed tax sale that's too late, reopen the estate and sell the property. Have a lawyer review the actions if the PR to determine whether you need...

Q: I own a timeshare with my mother, who is now deceased. How can I get her name off the deed?

2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law for Maryland on
Answered on Mar 13, 2019
Richard Sternberg's answer
You can make the change once appointed Personal Representative of her estate. You may need to open a subsidiary probate in Florida to do the closing if it is a fee simple interest rather than a cooperative.

Q: ex-Husband died without a will but im co-owner on the home mortgage, can i sell this home

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Virginia on
Answered on Mar 12, 2019
Richard Sternberg's answer
You need a lawyer to review title to the house, the divorce decree, and the mortgage note. You aren’t providing sufficient information in your question, but if you don’t own the house, you can’t sell it. If you own part of the house, you can usually file a Petition for Sale in Lieu of Partition, and, in Virginia, the legal fees will be reimbursed from the proceeds. And, if it doesn’t place you in contempt of court or breach of a settlement contract, you can stop paying the mortgage and...

Q: Do you still go by a will if a spouse elects against the estate?

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Maryland on
Answered on Mar 5, 2019
Richard Sternberg's answer
You really need counsel if a spouse elects against the Will, but, generally, spousal share trumps the Will as to the spouse, who takes only through the election, and the rest and remainder goes according to the Will. The computation sometimes get hairy.

Q: We are on Septic, "Will we be able to sell our house?" - drain field is not on our property.

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Maryland on
Answered on Mar 4, 2019
Richard Sternberg's answer
You should start with a title search of the property where the septic tank or field is located to make sure you have an enforceable easement that runs with the land. You may then want an engineering, environmental study. If anything doesn’t clear, you need to review your title insurance policy. What you plainly cannot do is conceal or fail to disclose during a sale.

Q: Can a settlement agent who signs a loan application also be the notary and witness on a deed of trust.

3 Answers | Asked in Consumer Law, Foreclosure, Real Estate Law and Securities Law for Maryland on
Answered on Mar 3, 2019
Richard Sternberg's answer
If the notary is applying for the loan, he cannot notarize his own signature. Almost all settlement agents are notaries. And, notaries can of course be a witness. That’s pretty much what a notary is: a witness to the authenticity of a signature. Maryland Law does require deeds and deeds of trust to be prepared under the supervision of a lawyer, but there is a loophole that you could sail a battleship through. If you doubt the enforceability of your deed of trust, you can ask a Maryland lawyer...

Q: What are my rights to appointing a walkthrough at the end of the lease? Maryland state

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Maryland on
Answered on Feb 26, 2019
Richard Sternberg's answer
I'm not sure what you mean by "appointing…". I'm going to assume that you mean "make an appointment for…". You aren't required to make an appointment for a walk-through unless your lease gives you that duty. A lawyer's review of the lease might be worthwhile. But, either way, you want to attend the walk-through to be certain that the landlord isn't going to charge damages against your security deposit for things you didn't damage. If you aren't there, the landlord could -- honestly or...

Q: My bank account has been levied. Can they take all of my money out ? or is there a certain amount that can be taken ?

2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law for Maryland on
Answered on Feb 21, 2019
Richard Sternberg's answer
If it is a levy, that usually freezes the entire account until the parties return to court to condemn the funds. It is not uncommon for the bank to terminate its relationship with the customer after the levy is paid. It is often convenient to negotiate payment of the debt to free up some of the funds if they are not all owed or to maintain a relationship with the bank.

Reading an answer on the Internet does not create an attorney-client relationship. You are represented by me when we...

Q: My recently deceased father lived in DC, but kept Virginia as his residence on his drivers license. Which probate court?

2 Answers | Asked in Probate for District of Columbia on
Answered on Feb 20, 2019
Richard Sternberg's answer
The matter will present some factual issues, but that's all just evidentiary. If he lived in DC, you can do the probate there, and it will be easier and cheaper if it can be filed as an abbreviated unsupervised probate.

Q: My father, who lives in Washington, DC needs to get out of a reverse mortgage scam. He wasn't 100% to sign a contract.

1 Answer | Asked in Contracts, Criminal Law, Real Estate Law and Elder Law for District of Columbia on
Answered on Feb 19, 2019
Richard Sternberg's answer
You should have a consult with a lawyer before he dies. The facts matter, and they should not be discussed in an open forum.

Q: My mother and I purchased a property in 2005. She put down $40000 for 25% and I as the “working partner” for 75%

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Virginia on
Answered on Feb 18, 2019
Richard Sternberg's answer
It would be useful to have a lawyer read the agreement you signed. One of the benefits of the LLC form of business entity is its flexibility in capitalization and control. Absent provisions to the contrary, she is either a lender or an owner, not both with the same money. If she is a lender, she is paid first the amount she lent plus the agreed interest, and then nothing else. If she is an owner, she is paid the percentage of her ownership. Absent contractual language to the contrary, gains...

Q: What should avg fee for unsupervised probate estate value 1.1million. Will straight forward split even percents

2 Answers | Asked in Probate for District of Columbia on
Answered on Feb 17, 2019
Richard Sternberg's answer
Lawyers in DC are not permitted to charge a percentage— any percentage— in private unless it is a commission on sale of property. If all that is required is a petition for probate, unsupervised, with proper releases all around, it shouldn’t be more than a few thousand, and you get to review the bill before its paid so you can ask for court review. The lawyer will be happier if you let him list and sell the apartment so he can make some money on the file, but usually he just gets paid for...

Q: Hi, i,m not sure what the future holds for me. My mother and i purchased a condo in 2002. My cousins name was on deed

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law and Elder Law for Maryland on
Answered on Feb 15, 2019
Richard Sternberg's answer
You should probably get a consult with a bankruptcy lawyer. I exclude bankruptcy from my practice, but I believe real estate not exempted would be liquidated to pay debts in the bankruptcy. The correct answer was to place the deed in a special needs trust three years ago, but that isn’t helpful now. A careful examination of title might help. Perhaps your interest in half the property has already matured, and perhaps a better strategy can be developed. It will not be free.

Q: Can the court clerk decide to not appoint the executors as listed in the will and put all heirs on property deed?

2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Virginia on
Answered on Feb 14, 2019
Richard Sternberg's answer
“Advantage” should have no relevance to the appointment of an executor in a testate estate, and title to the land passes in Virginia outside probate subject to the actions of the executor in administering the estate. In other words, your question makes no sense, and the uncooperative heir or beneficiary shouldn’t matter. You need to sit down with a lawyer and let him read the Will and interview you. My best wild guess on the facts you’ve recited is that the probate clerk doesn’t think...

Q: I signed contract purchase agreement, if I default as buyer, what are my risk beside loss of earnest funds?

1 Answer | Asked in Contracts and Real Estate Law for Virginia on
Answered on Feb 14, 2019
Richard Sternberg's answer
There seems to be a widespread belief that the paper you signed, often called the purchase agreement or the sales agreement or the contract, is irrelevant because they are all the same. They are not. Further, there is appears to be a widespread belief that an interview to determine all of the facts isn’t needed, because the only relevant facts are the ones clients are focused on when they think they are in trouble. That is also false. Finally, there seems to be a widespread belief that...

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